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Update for July 9 – 15, 2013

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News and Views

Reservations open Tuesday for 2013 Candlelight dining packages | Construction notes | Quick takes | Crowd update
Our weekly Walt Disney World Update publishes on Tuesdays.

Reservations open Tuesday for 2013 Candlelight dining packages

Reservations for the popular Candlelight dining packages open Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m. CST (that's 4:00 a.m. for the West Coast). The traditional telling of the Christmas story with a mass choir and 50-piece live orchestra runs from the night after Thanksgiving through December 30 at the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot three times nightly, at 5:00, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m.

The popular dining packages provide a prix fixe dinner at Epcot's table service dining locations and guaranteed seating for the Processional. Disney has yet to officially announce details of the 2013 dining packages, but we have confirmed that most table service restaurants in World Showcase will offer dining packages for lunch, dinner, or both. The notable exception is Le Cellier in the Canada pavillion, possibly the most popular restaurant in Epcot. In 2012 Le Cellier offered a lunch package but no dinner option; this year, the restaurant has withdrawn from Candlelight entirely. The Coral Reef and the Garden Grill in Future World will also participate in the program.

2013 participating restaurants

  • Biergarten (Germany)
  • Chefs de France (France)
  • Coral Reef (Future World)
  • The Garden Grill (Future World)
  • La Hacienda de San Angel (Mexico)
  • Nine Dragons (China)
  • Restaurant Marrakesh (Morocco)
  • Rose & Crown Pub Dining Room (England)
  • San Angel Inn (Mexico)
  • Teppan Edo (Japan)
  • Tokyo Dining (Japan)
  • Tutto Italia (Italy)
  • Via Napoli (Italy)

Candlelight dining packages include a three-course meal (appetizer, entree, and dessert) or full buffet (at Biergarten and Garden Grill), and also include reserved seating for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.

Reservations can be made by calling the Walt Disney World dine line at (407) WDW-DINE [939-3463], or online via the Walt Disney World website.

Construction notes

Some interesting construction permit filings from the past few weeks:

  • Roadwork around the main entrance of the Grand Floridian Hotel, likely due to the DVC expansion.
  • Roadwork around the bus loading zone at the Caribbean Beach resort.

Quick takes…

...Sophia the First is making an impression at Walt Disney World. A new Sophia the First makeover package is available at the Downtown Disney Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique location inside the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney. The package is $64.95 and includes:

  • Hairstyling and hair bow
  • Shimmering make-up
  • Crown and accessory
  • Nail polish

Call (407) WDW-STYLE (407-939-7895) to make a reservation.

Sophia the First is also appearing in a meet-and-greet outside Disney Junior – Live on Stage! According to Disney, "you’ll find a beautiful immersive backdrop inspired by the storybook world of Enchancia, where you can meet and snap photos with the lovely Sofia." The character recently began hosting meet-and-greets at Disney California Adventure.

...The zebras have returned to Kilimanjaro Safari. The herd was introduced last year as part of an overhaul of the attraction's storyline, but were quietly removed from the newly created "Zebra Glen" near the end of the ride a few months later. No word as to how Disney resolved whatever issues caused the zebras to be removed in the first place.

...The last week has seen a jump in registration for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon and Goofy Challenge. The Marathon is now at 92 percent capacity, and the Goofy Challenge is up to 84 percent. Capacity for the 2014 Princess Half Marathon is now at 80 percent.

...The next Limited Time Magic promotion is titled "Mickey's America Streetbeat," and runs July 8 to 14, 2013. The show is presented at the American Gardens Theater in Epcot. From the description posted by Disney, "Mickey's America Streetbeat" looks a like a re-creation of the "Mickey's Dance Crew" show that appeared at Disney California Adventure in 2012.

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Crowd Forecast

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Crowd information and forecasts are provided by TouringPlans.com, the website of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, to help you better plan your trip to the Walt Disney World Resort. TouringPlans.com gathers wait time data from a team of in-park researchers and users of their Lines mobile phone application, and then predicts crowd levels for the next 365 days. Using a scale from 1 to 10, TouringPlans.com has a 90 percent accuracy of predicting the crowds to within 1 point, helping visitors prepare for their trips so they can "Do more. Wait less."

A good touring plan is most important during the summer season. TouringPlans.com can help you avoid falling into the typical tourist pitfalls, and will help you avoid the dreaded tour groups, with our per-park Crowd Calendar, Lines - Mobile Wait Times App that gives access to current and estimated wait times for attractions, and Touring Plans detailing the best plan of attack for hitting the attractions. Now more than ever, it's a good time to subscribe to TouringPlans.com to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!

Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.

Date Overall
Tuesday, July 9, 2013 10 / 10
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 9 / 10
Thursday, July 11, 2013 9 / 10
Friday, July 12, 2013 9 / 10

Check out the Disney World Park Crowd Levels page on TouringPlans.com for park-specific predictions and recommendations on which days to visit and avoid particular parks!

  • Wednesday is the best day to visit the Magic Kingdom.
  • The resort crowd level on Saturday 9 out of 10.
  • Following a Touring Plan is important when crowd levels spike at the park you're visiting!

See Disney World crowds for the next 365 days.
Get Disney World wait times on your iPhone, Android or Smartphone.
Do more. Wait less.

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Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

Resort Events

2013

  • Night of JoySeptember 6–7
  • Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party – September 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27, 29; October 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29, 31; and November 1.
  • Epcot International Food & Wine FestivalSeptember 27 to November 11
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend October 4–5
  • EasyWDW.com reports that Disney Hollywood Studios will close at 6 p.m. on October 26 due to a private event for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Holiday Time at Walt Disney World – begins November 8
  • Opening night for Osbourn Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – November 8
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party – November 8, 11, 14, 15, 17, 21, 22; and December 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20.
  • Wine & Dine Half Marathon WeekendNovember 8–9
  • MouseAdventure World Explorers VNovember 16–17. Keep an eye on our MouseAdventure Facebook page, and register for our MouseAdventure Newsletters for more details as they are announced.
  • Candlelight Processional – November 29 - December 30, 2013. Dining packages go on sale July 9.

2014

runDisney events

2013

  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend – October 4–5. The Tower of Terror 10-Miler is now sold out. Registration is still open for the Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run, Kids Races, Disney Villains Hollywood Bash.
  • Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – November 8–9. The Wine & Dine Half Marathon is now sold out. Registration is still open for Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K, Kids' Races, Wine & Dine Finish Line Party.

2014

  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 9–12. Sold out: Walt Disney World Half Marathon, WDW 10K, Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Dopey Challenge, Runner's World Challenge. Registration is still open for the Walt Disney World Marathon, Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, Family Reunion Breakfast and Pasta in the Park Party.
  • Disney's Princess Half-Marathon Weekend – February 21–23. Registration open. Events include Disney's Princess Half Marathon individual and team events, Enchanted 10K, Disney Royal Family 5K, Kids Races, post-5K Breakfast, and Pasta in the Park Party. Registration for the 10K and the Glass Slipper Challenge (both the 10K and half marathon) is sold out. runDisney has announced a special achievement for those running both the Princess and Tinker Bell half-marathons.

Do you participate in (or are considering signing up for) runDisney events? Visit our Team MousePlanet forum on the MousePad discussion board, where you can join our community of health-minded readers and staff.


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Pirates of the Caribbean – closed July 27–30 for an "animation refurbishment."
  • Prince Charming Regal Carousel – closed August 1–21 for refurbishment.
  • Liberty Belle – closed August 5–9 for refurbishment.
  • Jungle Cruise – closed August 19 through September 30 for refurbishment.
  • Cinderella's Royal Table – closed September 10–13 for refurbishment.
  • Princess Fairytale Hall – opens 2013.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – opens 2014.

Epcot

  • Fountain View Ice Cream – closed through early September for conversion to Starbucks location.
  • Spaceship Earth – closed August 18–24 for refurbishment.
  • New rest room between America and Japan pavilions – scheduled to open Fall 2013.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Muppet*Vision 3D – closed August 6 through September 2 for refurbishment.
  • Both parades (Disney Channel Rocks and Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade) have ended their run. No new parades have been announced.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known refurbishments.

Resorts

  • All-Star Movies – feature icons refurbishment through September 20.
  • All-Star Music
    • Feature icons refurbishment through September.
    • Melody Hall guest check in parking renovation – June 13 through August 7
  • All-Star Sports
    • Feature icons refurbishment through September 20.
    • Arcade closes July 28 for conversion into a temporary grab-and-go food location. Expected to reopen in December.
    • Food court closed August 5 - mid-December for refurbishment. During this time, snacks and drinks will be available from a grab-and-go location in the former arcade. Hot food will be available from the All-Star Music Food Court, and Disney will offer bus service between the resorts.
  • BoardWalk – guest parking lot renovation through July 19
  • Contemporary Resort
    • California Grill closed through late summer for refurbishment.
    • Guest elevator renovations – through December 8
  • Grand Floridian – Convention center parking lot refurbishment August 5–7
  • Polynesian – soft goods replacement in guest rooms through October 4
  • Pop Century
    • Feature icons refurbishment through October 2
  • Port Orleans French Quarter
    • Atrium and lobby renovation through July 12
  • Port Orleans Riverside
    • Bridge and bus stop vine removal and painting through August 30
  • Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
    • Spa closed through summer for conversion to Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort. The spa at the Grand Floridian remains open during this time.
  • Yacht and Beach Club – Beach Club Villas sidewalk will be repaired
  • Wilderness Lodge
    • Main building exterior repairs through August 5

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 27, 2013 through January 4, 2014 for refurbishment.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. Will not be performed on the following dates in 2013:
    • July 23
    • September 17–21
    • November 5–6

Current Discounts & Promotions

Discounts for everyone

Free Dining in September

First Disney announced a new Free Dining offer for U.K. residents, then an offer for Disney Visa cardholders visiting selected dates this September. Now the September Free Dining offer is available without using a Disney Visa card. Check in at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel from September 2 to 25 and stay three to 14 nights, and everyone in your party gets free dining. Stay at a:

  • Value Resort – receive the Quick Service Dining plan for free. You can upgrade to the Standard or Deluxe dining plan by paying the difference. Moderate, Deluxe, or
  • Deluxe Villa Resort – receive the Standard dining plan. You can upgrade to the Deluxe dining plan by paying the difference.

There are some restrictions:

  • You must purchase a 2-Day (or longer) Magic Your Way ticket for very member of your party.
  • You must book your travel by July 31.
  • You must book the same tickets and dining plan for every member of your party.
  • Children ages 3–9 must order from the children's menu where offered; children under age 3 are not eligible for free dining.
  • This offer excludes the campsites at Fort Wilderness, the Little Mermaid rooms at the Art of Animation Resort, and all 3-bedroom Villas.

For full details, visit the Disney special offer site.

PhotoPass+ pre-arrival discount

Disney's PhotoPass service provides a discount on Disney PhotoPass+ pre-arrival packages. For $149.95 plus tax, Walt Disney World guests receive a voucher to exchange for a PhotoPass+ card upon arrival at the resort, a Photo Gallery CD with more than 400 stock photos ($39.95 value), a unique code to create and order a photo CD upon return from their trip ($169.95 value), print packages at select dining locations ($29.95 value each), and digital photos from select attractions ($14.95 value each). Applicable taxes are charged to all orders.

This special offer is only available from this link or by calling the Guest Support line at (407) 560-4300 before you arrive at Walt Disney World Resort. All sales are final, and not eligible for an exchange or refund.

The package might take as long as 14 days to arrive, and you must bring your voucher from the package to redeem it, so make sure that you order far enough in advance to allow your materials to arrive.

Attractions currently participating in the program are Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, and Dinosaur. Current participating restaurants are 1900 Park Fare, 'Ohana, Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Chef Mickey's, Cinderella's Royal Table, Tusker House Restaurant, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, and Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.

Discounts for Annual Passholders

Passholder room discounts June 4 through August 15

A discount for annual passholders is available for most dates June 4 through August 15. Advance reservations required.

As with all discounts, rooms available at these rates is limited, and minimum length-of-stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. No group rates or other discounts apply. Campsites, three-bedroom Grand Villas, and standard rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included. Discounts vary by accommodation type and date, and availability varies by date. Moderate and Deluxe Resort suites may be available at a lower discount - check with your travel agent. Full details on the offer website. (AP login required)

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-7926 or your favorite travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Resort Category Resort Name Discount if booked by 6/19 Discount if booked by 8/15
Value Resorts Disney's All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Pop Century, Art of Animation Family Suites Up to 20% Up to 15%
Moderate Resorts Disney's Port Orleans Riverside, Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, the Cabins at Fort Wilderness Up to 25% Up to 20%
Deluxe Resorts Disney's Yacht and Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, Animal Kingdom Lodge (standard view), Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge Up to 35% Up to 30%
Disney Vacation Club Resorts Disney's Beach Club Villas, Old Key West, BoardWalk Villas, Villas at the Wilderness Lodge, Saratoga Springs, Bay Lake Towers Up to 35% Up to 30%

 

Discounts for Disney Visa cardholders

20% off select guided tours

Disney Visa cardholders receive 20% off the non-discounted price of selected guided tours for up to 10 people. The cardholder must participate in the tour, and pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card. Tours included:

Magic Kingdom® Park
• Disney's Family Magic Tour
• Disney's Keys to the Kingdom Tour
• Disney's The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour
• Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour

Epcot®
• Gardens of the World (offered seasonally)
• The UnDISCOVERed Future World
• Disney's Dolphins in Depth
Epcot® DiveQuest
Epcot® Seas Aqua Tours
Epcot® Behind the Seeds (15% discount)

Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park
• Wild by Design
• Backstage Safari

Multiple Theme Parks and Backstage Areas:
• Backstage Magic
• Disney's Holiday D-Lights (offered seasonally)
• Disney's Yuletide Fantasy (offered seasonally)

10% off select restaurants

Disney Visa cardholders receive 10% off the check when you pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card (be sure to request the discount). Discount excludes alcohol.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge:
• Sanaa (Lunch)

Disney's Contemporary Resort:
• The Wave (Breakfast and Lunch)

Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground:
• Trail's End Restaurant (Breakfast and Lunch)

Disney's Old Key West Resort:
• Olivia's Café (Breakfast and Lunch)

Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa:
• Turf Club (Lunch)

Disney's Wilderness Lodge:
• Whispering Canyon Café (Lunch)

Disney's Yacht Club Resort:
• Captain's Grill (Breakfast and Lunch)

Downtown Disney® Area:
• Cap'n Jack's (Lunch)

10% off merchandise

Disney Visa cardholders receive 10% off at participating Disney-owned retail location when you spend a minimum of $50 and pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card (be sure to request the discount). Read all of the restrictions on the Disney Visa website.

Free 5x7 character photo at a private meet and greet location at Epcot.

Present your Disney's Premier Visa® Card or Disney Rewards® Visa® Card for access to a private character meet and greet at Epcot for the cardholder and up to 5 guests. The event is hosted daily from 1pm - 7pm inside Innoventions West at Epcot. You'll recieve one free 5 x 7 character photo per day.

Discounts for Florida residents

Florida resident hotel offers

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando has announced Florida resident rates valid through September 5. Residents receive 10 percent off of the best available rate, along with free transportation to the Walt Disney World Resort. Book using the Florida resident offer website.

The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort has announced Florida resident rates valid through September 5. Residents receive 10 percent off of the best available rate, along with free transportation to the Walt Disney World Resort. Book using the Florida Resident offer website.

Discounts for US Military

2013 Military Salute offers

From now through September 28, active and retired U.S. military personnel can purchase 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with either the Park Hopper or Water Parks Fun and More option for $156 per ticket, plus tax (up from $138 last year), or with both the Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun and More options for $184 per ticket, plus tax (up from $165). No Base ticket is available with this offer.

These tickets expire after September 28. Blockout dates are March 24 through April 4 at all ticketed locations, and July 4 at Magic Kingdom park only.

Eligible service members include active or retired members of the U.S. military including the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reservists. Disney Military Promotional Tickets can be purchased at Shades of Green or at a participating military base (MWR/ITT) office. There is no tax charged for these tickets but they must be activated at a theme park ticket window. Tickets may also be purchased at Walt Disney World Park Ticket Offices and Guest Relations Offices where tax will be charged. Tickets may be purchased by active and retired military personnel for themselves and up to five additional family members or friends. One of the Disney four-Day Military Promotional Tickets purchased on each occasion must be for use by the Eligible Service Member or spouse. This offer is for active or retired members of the U.S. military, including the National Guard, Reservists and the U.S. Coast Guard. Valid military identification is required. The tickets are non-transferable and may not be resold.

You may upgrade the tickets to Seasonal Passes or Florida Resident Weekday Select Passes (for Florida Residents), or Annual Passes, Premium Annual Passes, or Disney Premier Pass with credit toward the upgrade based on the actual price paid. The no-expiration option and other upgrades, such as additional days, are not available.

In addition, specially priced rooms are available to active and retired U.S. military personnel at select Walt Disney World resorts for stays most nights through September 28.

For complete information regarding Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets and discounted resort rates, military personnel may call (407) 939-7830, visit the Walt Disney World website, or participating U.S. military base ticket offices.

Discounts for UK residents

2014 Free Dining offer for UK residents

2014 Free Dining offers for UK residents have been released. From the information posted on the Virgin Holidays website, it appears the 2014 program offers free Quick Service Dining Plan plan when booking at a Moderate resort, and free Dining Plan when booking at Deluxe resorts, Old Key West or Saratoga Springs. There are also offers for a free $200 Disney Gift Card and/or a 14-day ticket for the price of a 7-day ticket depending on travel dates. These particular offers are valid for UK residents only.


Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Adrienne here.


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Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix (@MousePlanetAVP) is an original MousePlanet staffer and manages to find time for all of this while running two retail stores, MouseShoppe and CharmingShoppe.